How-To

Sudsy Tips for More Sustainable Tub Time

Talia Vicars
Sustainable Tub Time

Who doesn’t love a bubble bath (excluding tiny tots that would rather stay filthy)? It’s the epitome of self-care and relaxation. Here are our sudsiest tips for how to get the ultimate relaxation before, during, and after tub time – because that deep zen comes when you know the planet is at peace, too.

Here’s our round-up of helpful hints!

#1 Pick your suds and soaps carefully

#2 Shorten your pre-bath shower 

#3 Opt for dye-free, GOTS-certified organic cotton towels and unscented beeswax candles to complement your bath ritual

#1 Pick your suds and soaps carefully

When we think about getting squeaky clean in the tub, we might not consider what happens when those soapy products eventually get washed down the drain. If we’re not careful, then the products we use to make sudsy fun or get ourselves clean may be sending some unintended environmental consequences down the pipes.

When it comes to soap, opting for a bar of soap instead of liquid soap is already a step in the right direction. Life cycle assessments show that the carbon footprint of liquid soap is 25% higher than bar soap. That’s because a pump of liquid soap uses a greater mass of soap (almost 7 times more!) than spreading some on with a bar. Plus, you’re ditching all that plastic packaging that requires energy to produce and dispose of. That’s a very simplified version of the science of soap sustainability, but if you want to learn more, bop on over to our Bar Soap Wise Guide. Regardless of which soap you use, be mindful of the ingredients that go into making it and how much water you use while washing with it.

When it comes to shampoo and conditioner, consider trying a concentrated shampoo bar. Why? Liquid shampoo and conditioners are made up of 80% and 95% water, respectively. Spoiler alert - your shower already has water. These concentrated bars use the water in your shower to create the same effect as the liquid bottled stuff. And how about those suds? Sudsing is created by a chemical reaction or agent known as surfactants and, while surfactants aren’t toxic to humans (unless they get in your eyes or mouth in large quantities), they’re often harmful to aquatic life. Same with the emulsifiers, found in conditioners, that help combine oil and water so conditioners don’t separate and get clumpy. Want to know all the deets on Shampoo & Conditioner? We have a Wise Guide for that too – check it out here.

It’s important to remember that when switching out products, do not throw away something that isn’t finished just to buy a more sustainable option. Avoid the urge (which is likely the result of insidious capitalist marketing tendencies) to buy first – it creates more waste and doesn’t use the extracted materials to their highest value. 

#2 Shorten your pre-bath shower

A recent study found that bathing accounts for roughly 20% of indoor water use – the average shower uses 17 gallons of water, and the average bath uses about 30 gallons of water. Not to mention, it’s pretty common to hop in the shower before getting into the tub. Here’s what to consider when taking that pre-bath shower to minimize the increased water usage.

Let’s talk flow rate. Flow rate is the amount of water (usually measured in gallons per minute or ‘GPM’) used by showerheads. Since the mid-1990s, federal requirements have mandated that showerheads use no more than 2.5 GPM…the most efficient showerheads on the market today use around 1.5 GPM. Check the middle of your showerhead – the GPM should be etched in there, which will tell you how much water your showerhead uses. 

You might be thinking that a lower GPM would mean longer shower times in order to get the same level of cleanliness, but studies have shown that flow rates have little impact on shower length, but a significant impact on water use. Booyah! To reduce the amount of water associated with bathing, consider switching out your showerhead for a more efficient model and shorten your shower. As tub aficionados, we hate to say it, but consider treating your baths like a special treat. A 10-minute shower uses the same amount of water as a bath. So, if a shorter shower time can feel just as relaxing as a bath, it’s a lower water-use option. 

#3 Opt for dye-free, GOTS-certified organic cotton towels and unscented beeswax candles to complement your bath ritual 

If mood lighting is key to your perfect bathtime, then opt for an unscented beeswax candle. Not all beeswax is created equal, though, so look for USDA-certified beeswax and MADE SAFE®-certified candles, which have a certification that makes sure that your product doesn’t contain ingredients known or suspected to cause human health harm. To minimize soot, look for candles with a spherical shape to allow for more complete combustion. Have we lit the flame of curiosity about candles? Our Candles Wise Guide is ready to illuminate your mind.

When buying towels and robes, it’s all about softness and absorbency…and materials. Our favorite material for towels is 100% organic cotton. Unlike conventional cotton, organic cotton ensures that the crop is grown without the use of harmful chemicals, leaving the soil, air, and water free from contaminants. It also produces around 46% fewer emissions compared to conventional cotton. Look for GOTS-certified materials (the leading textile standard for organic materials) and the OEKO-TEX certification (which tests for harmful substances in textiles and socially-responsible manufacturing practices) for the ultimate in “clean” towels. Are you hooked on terry cloth? Visit our Towels Wise Guide.